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Meati Foods CEO Phil Graves
New CEO Phil Graves: 'Our future is bright...' Image credit Meati Foods

Meati Foods brings in new CEO, lays off more staff, as its mycelium-based whole cuts reach 3,600 stores

February 20, 2024

Fungi-fueled alt meat startup Meati Foods has brought in former Patagonia exec Phil Graves as CEO following the departure of CPG veteran Scott Tassani, who served as president and COO at Meati for just over a year before moving to Treehouse Foods earlier this month.

Under Graves’ leadership, Meati Foods will “continue the work to right size its workforce and accelerate the company’s path to profitability,” said the firm, which has engaged in a series of layoffs over the past year and said the latest round would “impact 13% of Meati’s workforce.”

Graves, who most recently served as CEO at Wild Idea Buffalo Company, was announced as Meati’s new chief financial officer (CFO) two weeks ago in a LinkedIn post from Meati cofounder and former CEO Dr. Tyler Huggins, who is moving into the role of chief innovation officer.

Asked why Graves is now being announced as CEO, a company spokeswoman told AgFunderNews that, “Phil is stepping in as CEO. At this time Meati does not have a CFO or chief commercial officer.”

Despite the abrupt switch in Graves’ position, Scott Tassani’s departure was “not sudden,” she explained. “He took another role that was offered to him that he couldn’t pass up. Scott left before Phil was brought in as CFO, and that hiring process had been ongoing.”

High repeat purchase rates

According to the company, Meati is performing well at retail, although the overall category continues to slide: “Meati products have done incredibly well since launching into the market last year.  40% of shoppers have purchased eat meati products as their first ever animal-free products, and 60% of meati buyers repurchase. The company has products in 3,600 locations across Super Target, Whole Foods Market, Albertsons, Meijer, Sprouts Farmers Market and more, with the goal of expanding into 10,000 locations before year end.”

Graves, who stressed that the cutbacks would not disrupt the firm’s supply chain, added: “Our future is bright. This category-defining product is already in 3,600 stores nationwide after just one year of production, showcasing its boundless potential.”

meati at whole foods
Meati Foods sells its mycelium-based whole cut products in 3,600 stores across the US including Super Target, Whole Foods Market, Albertsons, Meijer,  and Sprouts Farmers Market, with the goal of expanding into 10,000 locations before the end of the year. Image credit: Meati Foods

Mycelium-based whole cuts

Founded in 2015 by engineers Dr. Justin Whiteley and Dr. Tyler Huggins, Meati is seeking to differentiate itself in the meat alternatives market with a fungi-based biomass fermentation platform capable of producing whole cuts of alternative meat from mycelium, the filamentous-like roots of mushrooms.

The Boulder-based startup—which has raised well over $250 million from investors including Revolution Growth and Grosvenor Food & AgTech—recently started production at its “Mega Ranch” in Thornton Colorado.

The Thornton facility will ultimately be able to produce 40 million pounds a year (the equivalent of about 151 million 120g steaks), according to former president Scott Tassani, who told reporters early last year that he expected to capture “20% of what we think will be a $5 billion retail market in five years.”

According to Circana data crunched by 210 Analytics, US retail sales of meat alternatives fell 11.1% to $1.048 billion in the 52 weeks ending January 28, 2024 (total US, MULO, integrated fresh). Volume sales fell 16.5%. For context, fresh meat department dollar sales fell -0.5% over the same period with volumes down -1.5%.

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